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Rebuild Illinois Program Invests Millions in Mundelein, Lake County

The Village of Mundelein ranks at the top of the list for the Illinois Department of Transportation’s (IDOT) six-year $540 million investment to improve roads, repair bridges, and ease traffic congestion in Lake County. The road plan earmarks $129 million to widen Route 60/83 and take it over a troublesome railroad crossing in the Mundelein area.

Plans call for the two-lane road to be rebuilt and widened for 3 miles from Route 176 to the CN railroad crossing near Diamond Lake Road and a bridge to be built over the tracks.

“This is a very significant project for Mundelein and will have substantial positive impact on traffic congestion and ‘cut-through’ traffic in the Village. For over a decade, we have taken many behind the scenes steps to address the 60/83 traffic issues. In 2008, we initiated this discussion when Canadian National purchased the EJ & E railroad. As part of the acquisition, we negotiated an impact mitigation agreement that paid the Village $1.9 million. $500,000 of this money funded an engineering study to determine if it was possible to build the highway over the RR tracks or tunnel underneath. In 2016, the Village Board entered into an agreement with IDOT for $350,000 to include the added study into IDOT’s Phase I engineering. If we had not taken the first step in 2008 to discuss this troublesome issue with Canadian National, this project would not have received funding on IDOT’s 5-Year Transportation Plan. I commend our Trustees over the past decade for their long-term vision,” explains John Lobaito, Village Administrator.

“This is a major step forward for Mundelein and given the investment in this project, I think IDOT acknowledges the importance of this project regionally,” Lobaito added. “We’ve been pushing for this for 11 years. This Route 60/83 project didn’t happen overnight,” he said. Roughly $9 million has been budgeted for land acquisition and other work in the 2019-20 fiscal year.

“If you’re not going to build Route 53, you have to widen Route 60/83,” Lobaito said. A key to make the project effective is a grade separation at the CN (formerly EJE) railroad crossing. The crossing is a well-known choke point drivers avoid by using neighborhood streets.

Other Lake County projects include: widening Route 22 from Quentin Road to near Route 83 in Long Grove/Kildeer; realigning intersections on Route 83 from Route 120 to Route 137 and at Atkinson Road in Grayslake; widening Route 131 (Green Bay Road) from Wadsworth Road to Sunset Avenue in Beach Park; modernizing the interchange of Route 41 (Skokie Highway) at Route 176 in Lake Bluff; widening Route 120 from Ashford Lane to Route 45 in Grayslake; widening and replacing a bridge and culvert on Route 132 (Grand Avenue) from Sheehan Drive to Munn Road in Lake Villa and Lindenhurst; and replacing a bridge on Route 132 at Cedar Lake Road in Lake Villa.

The projects are on a road work priority list as determined by Lake County and its communities and account for an estimated cost of nearly $337 million.

“I think Lake County fared very well. Traffic congestion is a significant issue in many areas of Lake County,” said Shane Schneider, Director of Lake County Division of Transportation (LCDOT). “We have worked hard to identify and prioritize projects that will provide meaningful congestion relief to areas that have been bogged down by traffic. The projects announced by IDOT will positively benefit all who drive through Lake County.”

Projects will be funded through the $23.5 billion Rebuild Illinois capital program, which is generating money from a tax increase on gasoline, higher license plate fees, gambling expansion and other sources. Since the funding is reliable, Schneider said, identified road projects will advance more consistently.

“The good news is there is funding to build them after they go through the process. That’s a big change from previous multiyear plans,” he said. “We shouldn’t see these long, 10-year delays,” he added.

According to Schneider, about 20 trains cross 60/83 every day and that is expected to grow to 29 trains a day. Trains can be 3 miles long and tie up traffic for up to an hour, he added.

The County Board places a high priority on improving transportation infrastructure, which in turn improves the quality of life for all Lake County residents,” said Lake County Board Member Bill Durkin.
“Lake County officials have worked with state, county, and local leaders to develop a plan to address our transportation needs and make commuting around Lake County easier.”

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